Last Sunday, agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency conducted some “surprise inspections” of NFL visiting teams looking for any irregularities with regard to the dispensing of controlled substances particularly painkillers. Several reports said that the inspections had their origins in allegations made in the “concussion lawsuit” regarding improprieties with these substances under the Controlled Substances Act. The Niners, Seahawks and Bucs confirmed that they underwent some kind of inspection; this report in the Washington Post indicates that the focus is not merely on those teams.
I think this is a very complicated issue. Obviously, there is an important social need for certain substances to be controlled and dispensed only by people certified as knowledgeable enough to do so properly. Highly addictive painkillers fall into that category and no one – not football fans, law enforcement officials or legislators – ought to be surprised to learn that professional football players suffer painful injuries in the course of their professional activities. The potential problem here is that a law and the regulations that flow from that law which was written with hospitals and pharmacies in mind will almost certainly have areas of recordkeeping and physical storage that are treated loosely by the physicians traveling with NFL teams.
A little cynical voice in the back of my head says that this is merely a grandstanding play by the Feds so that as the concussion lawsuits proceed their activities can be seen in a positive light. I want to be wrong about that but I cannot quiet that little voice completely.
With regard to the entire issue of players taking potent painkillers in order to “get back in the game” situations, I think an important distinction needs to be made with regard to three kinds of scenarios:
Scenario 1: Player is injured; he does not know the extent of the injury but it does hurt a lot. Team physician – or other doctor involved somehow – says he does not think it is a debilitating injury and a painkiller will alleviate the suffering. He and the player agree that is a course of action; the player takes the pill(s) and can return to action.
Scenario 2: Player is injured; extent of injury is not known; doctor suspects it is not debilitating and just gives the player a pill to take without the player knowing what the pill is or what the injury is all about.
Scenario 3: Player is injured; he does not know the extent of the injury but the doctor does. There is a chance that continued play can make it worse but the doctor does not tell the player of those potential consequences as he gives the witting or unwitting player a painkiller to get him back in the game.
Would I be surprised to learn that at some time in the past and the present, each of these three scenarios has played itself out? Absolutely not… Importantly, I believe the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act have very different intersection with these kinds of scenarios. This is a complex issue; I hope this is not a grandstand play by the Feds; I hope the teams, the doctors and the players are all acting responsibly here…
Earlier this week, the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals threw some kerosene into the hot stove league. The Braves sent Jason Heyward and a pitcher to the Cards for Shelby Miller and another pitcher. Heyward and Miller are young players who have significant accomplishments already in their major league careers and still plenty of “upside”. The ideal trade is one that can help both teams; this one might fit into that category.
The Cards need an outfielder to replace Oscar Taveras who was killed in a car accident recently. Heyward gives them that outfielder.
The Braves need pitching. Miller is someone who could become a “top of the rotation” guy.
Two things surprised me just a bit about the trade. The Cards starting rotation has question marks. Adam Wainright has an elbow “issue”; Michael Wacha has a shoulder “issue”. The Cardinals traditionally rely on solid starting pitching as a foundation of team; so, trading a 24-year old starter with a career ERA of 3.33 is not something I thought they would be willing to do. Also, the Braves had “offensive problems” last year. I do not want to make Jason Heyward out to be a nascent Ted Williams or anything like that, but he was one of their better offensive players. I am surprised the Braves were willing to deal him.
When we bought our new car, we got a free 3-month subscription to SiriusXM Radio. At first, I liked the idea of all the different sports channels but soon came to realize that all of them struggled to fill 168 hours per week with any kind of programming let alone quality programming. I found myself turning off the radio far too often to make any consideration of extending that subscription for even a day. I mention this only to set the stage for the next “announcement” I ran across:
John Daly – the sometimes golfer and full-time celebrity/personality – has signed on with SiriusXM Radio to do a show starting in December.
This event will be on the SiriusXM channel dedicated to PGATOUR Radio and the initial run for the program will be 6 shows. The program will be called Hit It Hard with John Daly and here is the brief description of what it will be about that supposedly would make me want to tune in:
“Daly will take calls from listeners around the country, talk about his experiences in and out of the sport, offer his thoughts on today’s game and players, share his love of music, and more.”
Maybe – I said MAYBE – I would listen to that at gunpoint…
Finally, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times summed up the situation regarding FIFA’s investigation into alleged shenanigans related to awarding the 2022 World Cup Tournament to Qatar:
“FIFA (wink, wink) found no irregularities in the way World Cups were awarded to Russia and Qatar, but bid-committee members weren’t available for comment.
“They’d just left on their surprise vacation junkets to Barbados.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………